Opening of Katharina Grosse Kemper Art exhibit 

| Contributing Writer

Photo by Izzy Silver.


The Kemper Art Museum opened a new exhibition, “Katharina Grosse Studio Paintings, 1988-2022: Returns, Revisions, Inventions,” by renowned contemporary German artist Katharina Grosse, Sept 23. 

This new exhibit features 37 large canvases organized into two separate themes: “Returns/Revisions/Inventions” and “Fissures/Ruptures.” The collection also includes three new fabric pieces featuring photographs of unfinished paintings and behind-the-scenes elements. 

The museum celebrated the opening of the exhibit with a Q & A led by Grosse and Eckmann. Set in the Steinberg Auditorium, the event brought Grosse’s friends to campus along with Washington University students and faculty members. 

Sabine Eckmann, the Kemper Art Museum’s chief curator, shared the significance of housing this exhibit in an interview with Student Life.

“This exhibition is the first to explore three decades of Grosse’s studio paintings and their embeddedness in the history of modern and contemporary painting,” Eckmann said.

The Q & A expounded upon Grosse’s artistic voice, inspirations, and techniques. Grosse has explored and utilized a variety of approaches throughout her artistic career, a trend visible throughout the works on display in the current exhibit. 

Grosse experiments with both layering and spraying paint techniques in her pieces; she also studies the effect of applying various natural elements to her work, like tree branches, kelp, and soil, to capture the way they interact with the canvas. 

To create another one of her pieces, Grosse walked over wet paint with special rubber shoes to engage with her canvas differently. “The only thing that is constant and recurring in my work is the color; the intensity of the color,” she said.


Photo by Izzy Silver.


One student who attended the event was junior Jane Whellan, the student social media coordinator for the Kemper Art Museum. Having researched Grosse and her work prior to the event, Whellan said that she is looking forward to witnessing the impact of the color and scale of the new exhibit.

“I’m excited to see all of the color in person because color is such a big part of her work and because it’s so hard to capture that on camera,” Whellan said.

This exhibit isn’t Kemper’s first partnership with Katharina Grosse. Back in 2016, the University’s Art on Campus initiative partnered with Kemper and commissioned an original painting for the Gary M. Sumers Recreation Center on campus that can still be seen today.

After the Kemper, Katharina Grosse’s exhibit will go to the Kunstmuseum Bern in Switzerland and then the Kunstmuseum Bonn in Germany.

Eckmann said that the artist’s international presence and boundary-breaking artistic style supports the Kemper Art Museum’s legacy to provide students with access to new works in the arts and humanities.

“Katharina Grosse hopes to achieve a reorientation, ‘a space where you can finally begin to talk and to think beyond binaries and conventional categories and definitions,’” Eckmann said. “I hope that the viewing of her painting will generate such contemplations and conversations relevant to our lives today.”

The exhibit is on display in the museum until January 23, 2023. 

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